Creating history

literary journalism and Ned Kelly's last stand

Willa McDonald, Kerrie Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Ned Kelly is iconic in Australian settler culture. The story of the Irish bushranger has inspired numerous books, movies, television series, comics and artwork. A notorious figure, he is most often remembered as the archetypal folk hero battling for survival under the harsh conditions imposed by the British establishment. But where did his story begin? In 1880, four Melbourne journalists travelled on the police train to Glenrowan to cover the intended capture of the Kelly gang that would later lead to Kelly's hanging. J. D. Melvin (Argus), Thomas Carrington (The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil), John McWhirter (The Age) and George Allen (Melbourne Daily Telegraph) went beyond the role of reporters and became participants in the action. The resulting articles recounted the famous siege in detail, relaying atmosphere, conversations and character in ways that would underpin the cultural myths of Kelly and his gang over the next 135 years. This paper analyses the narrative journalism from the siege at Glenrowan while investigating its role - particularly the evocative imagery of Carrington's literary journalism - in the construction of the cultural mythology surrounding Ned Kelly's "last stand".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-49
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian journalism review
Volume37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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